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Posts Tagged ‘Gay Straight Alliance’

Queer Ontario Celebrates a Long-Awaited Victory for LGBTQ Students with the Passing of Bill 13

June 5th, 2012 No comments

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Toronto, ON June 5, 2012 – Queer Ontario is pleased that Bill 13, the Accepting Schools Act, passed third reading today with explicit amendments to protect the rights and safety of students in all publicly funded schools. This includes the right for students to establish LGBTQ support groups in publicly-funded Catholic Schools, with names that describe and affirm LGBTQ identities.
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“We feel very strongly that LGBTQ-identified youth, who we know are heavily targeted for bullying, should receive the protections and supports they require regardless of what school board they are enrolled in,” says Nick Mulé, chairperson of Queer Ontario. “We expect the province’s Catholic School Boards to abide by this new legislation or reconsider accepting public funds.”
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We thank the Ontario NDP and especially Rosario Marchese, Peter Tabuns and Cheri DiNovo, for their support of LGBTQ youth during this needless struggle.
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We appreciate the support of Liberal MPP Laurel Broten, the Minister of Education, who up until May 25, was abdicating her duty to support all youth in Ontario schools. We also appreciate Premier McGuinty’s change of position on May 29, where he assured the public that Catholic School Boards will need to abide by Bill 13 and support students who wish to form LGBTQ-focused student groups. This is clearly a drastic change from his position since the beginning of this struggle in January of 2011.
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Most importantly, we want to thank Leanne Iskander, Christopher Mckerracher, and all the other students implicated in this fight, for their resistance and resilience over the past two years. This change would not have been possible without them.
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Our Bill 13 Fact Sheet [attached] gives our account of Bill 13, and calls for further actions to support youth, teachers, and staff in Ontario Schools.
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For interviews or more information please contact info@queerontario.org.
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Queer Ontario’s Statement on the Passage of Bill 13

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Queer Ontario’s Fact Sheet on Bill 13


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Queer Ontario awards 2011 John Damien Award to queer youth in Catholic school system

December 15th, 2011 No comments

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Queer Ontario Awards 2011 John Damien Award to Queer Youth in

Catholic School System

Award recipients reiterate importance of naming GSAs
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TORONTO:  On Sunday, December 4, 2011 during the Queer Ontario hosted 25th Anniversary celebrations of Sexual Orientation’s Inclusion in the Ontario Human Rights Code, the host group presented the 2011 John Damien Award to St. Joseph’s GSA and Catholic Students for GSAs.  The recognition was cited for the courageous work of these youth advocating for the right to form and participate in GSAs in the Catholic School System.

During the acceptance speech, the youth reiterated the importance of having the agency to name the group as they choose, using the term ‘gay’ without shame, regardless of being in a Catholic school system.

Queer Ontario revived the award which had been established by its predecessor, the Coalition for Gay Rights in Ontario (CGRO) which went on to become the Coalition for Lesbian and Gay Rights in Ontario (CLGRO).  Awarded 13 times between 1979 and 2004, the award recognizes individuals, groups or organizations that promote liberation for gender and sexually diverse people.  The award’s namesake is that of the late John Damien, who had been fired in the mid ‘70s from his job as a racing steward for being a ‘homosexual’.  The high profile case played a major role over a ten plus year campaign to have the Ontario Human Rights Code amended to include ‘sexual orientation’ as a ground for protection from discrimination, which was passed on December 2, 1986.

The celebration at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre included reminiscences, vigilance (ongoing campaign to have trans people recognized in human rights legislation), history and ongoing struggle for social rights beyond legal rights.

 

Queer Ontario Questions the Scope of Wednesday’s Anti-Bullying Bills

December 2nd, 2011 No comments

For Immediate Release

Queer Ontario Questions the Scope of Wednesday’s Anti-Bullying Bills
Calls for explicit protections and a more holistic approach to student bullying

TORONTO – Queer Ontario believes Ontario Education Minister Laurel Broten is moving in the right direction with the introduction of Bill 13 (the Accepting Schools Act), which will support students who want to establish activities or organizations that address the needs and experiences of persons of all sexual orientations and gender identities — like LGBTQ support groups [Accepting Schools Act Amendment 9]. While we appreciate the explicit mention of homophobia as a mentality that needs to be addressed in schools to prevent the bullying of students who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual; we are disappointed to find that heterosexism, cisgenderism, and transphobia are not mentioned whatsoever, and that gender identity and gender expression are inconsistently addressed throughout.

Similarly, when it comes to Bill 14 (the Anti-Bullying Bill) introduced by Progressive Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer on the same day, how can we be assured that the Anti-Bullying Act will duly address the bullying of LGBTQ students — or any marginalized student, for that matter — if it does not make any explicit mention of them? That is: how can we be assured that this legislation will be applied equally to all students without sidelining anyone for fear of the Government being accused of pandering to so-called “interest groups”?

It is also curious that it is taking a series of youth suicides due to bullying that the provincial government is only now addressing the issue of GSAs in Ontario high schools, despite existing PPM 145 that already permits them in all high schools throughout the province, which the Liberals refused to implement. In essence, Bill 13 curtails PPM 145 by permitting Catholic schools to name LGBTQ support groups with other names with less currency.

To address these issues, and to ensure the full and proper protection of marginalized LGBTQ students, we are calling on the Government of Ontario to do the following:

1. To develop a clear, comprehensive, and unequivocal definition of bullying, be it by the two parties who have introduced these Bills, or by Parliament as a whole.

2. To amend these Bills, in whatever form they ultimately take, to include explicit protections for transsexual, transgender, two-spirited, intersexed, and questioning students on the basis of transphobia and cisgenderism – a provision currently lacking from them.

3. To include compliance mechanisms in these Bills, in whatever form they ultimately take, to explicitly outline repercussions for School Administration, Boards, etc. that do not comply with the legislation. The compliance mechanisms must outline what the Ministry will do if School Administration, Boards, etc. fail to comply with the legislation and what specific actions the Ministry will take to ensure compliance.

4. To include a mechanism in these bills for youth to bypass School Administration, Boards, etc. if they are facing challenges with the formation of Gay-Straight Alliances or with school compliance with these Bills, in whatever form they ultimately take, such as teacher or staff bullying of students. This could take the form of an Ombudsman for Youth, Compliance Officer or a similar sort of position at the Ministry of Education that youth in Ontario schools can contact if they feel they are not properly being supported by their Administration or School Boards.

5. To include protections for teachers from bullying in the school environment as well as protections for teachers engaging in anti-bullying and/or equity and social justice work from harassment, oppression, marginalization or repercussions for performing such work.

6. To re-implement the new Physical and Health Curriculum, that included formal and explicit education about the problems behind the demeaning mentalities that fuelled bullying — like racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, cisgenderism, cissexism, fatphobia, and ableism.

7. To update the Humanities and Social Sciences curriculum to include an accurate and comprehensive portrayal of LGBTQ persons and their particular needs and experiences; as well as the history of the LGBTQ rights movement and the achievements of historic LGBTQ figures and their contributions to society. Representing the livelihoods and achievements of LGBTQ persons communicates the idea that LGBTQ persons are a very important part of society, and that we shouldn’t be unjustly oppressed or marginalized.

8. To include human rights protections of transsexual, transgender, two-sirited, intersexed, and genderqueer individuals via the inclusion of “gender identity” and “gender expression” as prohibited grounds for discrimination and violence in the Ontario Human Rights Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Criminal Code of Canada.

We have requested a meeting with Minister Broten, MPP Witmer and Peter Tabuns (MPP; Education Critic, NDP) to discuss how to move forward on these bills or what hopefully will evolve into an amended bill taking into account input from stakeholders. At press time we have not heard back from any of the ministers. It’s time Queen’s Park got serious about homophobic, heterosexist, transphobic and cisgenderist bullying in all Ontario schools. We hope sincerely that the parties can work together to formulate a bill that addresses the comprehensive needs of LGBTQ youth in Ontario schools.

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